Ubisense delivers precise location for Tier 1 automotive automatic replenishment


Ortrander Tier 1 manufacturer in Germany integrates precise real-time location, passive RFID and electronic scales in advanced production logistics project.

Bernd Williams-Boock, CEO of the Ortrander iron foundry in Eastern Germany had a problem. The supplier of parts for the heating and the automotive industry has experienced a three fold growth in production in the last five years.

“We had to introduce new technology to improve on our manual processes and keep up with the growth,” said Williams-Boock. “I had to know how many finished parts of which type I had and where to find them so I could meet the customer shipment deadlines.”

Williams-Boock also needed to know the current status of the unfinished parts in sand blasting or clean-up to determine whether the company could meet its commitments and forecasts.

The Fraunhofer Centre for applied logistics and information systems in Cottbus developed the concept of an intelligent fork-lift to meet the requirements. The fork-lift is fitted out with a passive RFID reader so that it can identify containers that it picks up, an electronic weighing device so that it can determine the weight of the container (and hence the number of parts it contains), and Ubisense precise RTLS to determine the precise location and orientation of the truck, and a terminal to enable the truck operator to verify the data being collected and communicate with the back-end logistics system.

The Ubisense precise RTLS system records where each container is set down in the logistics system so that the truck operator can be directed there to retrieve it. Information regarding the status of the parts in the container may also be added via the terminal. The location of the container provides additional information as to where the parts are and therefore what step they have reached in the manufacturing process.

“This joint development in a tier 1 manufacturing enterprise is second to none”, declared Terry Phebey, VP of European Sales with Ubisense. “The material flow solution developed together with the Fraunhofer Institute, Ortrander, and the other partners involved can be rolled out not only to other foundries but any manufacturer looking for a more efficient production process.”

“We were rather sceptical at first as to whether the environment would be too challenging for radio-based technologies to operate reliably,” commented Professor Uwe Meinberg, head of the Fraunhofer ALI in Cottbus.

“In particular, we have been impressed with the performance of the Ubisense UWB location system, despite the fact that the facility consists of stacks of metal containers full of metal parts!” Bernd
Williams-Boock has the last word: “We can find our parts and know if we can meet customer shipment requirements now but we are not finished. With the real-time data being captured, we can optimise the maintenance of the fork-lifts, improve the availability of information upon shipment and even reduce the risk of accidents in the plant.”

About Ubisense

Ubisense is the market leading vendor of precise RTLS (Real-time Location Systems) based on Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology. The company delivers complete solutions based on a highly scalable and reliable real-time location platform that is being deployed in mission critical applications around the world. http://www.ubisense.net

Terry Phebey

VP Sales Europe

+49 0231 999 55 – 500


About Ortrander

Ortrander Eisenhütte GmbH, based in Ortrand, Germany is 120 years old and specialises in the manufacture of iron parts for the automotive industry. In recent years considerable investment has been made to increase production to 35,000 tons per year in response to accelerating market demand as part of the automotive manufacturers’ drive towards more fuel efficient engines. www.ortrander.de

Bernd Williams-Boock


+49 (35755) 58 - 0


About Fraunhofer Institute ALI in Cottbus

The Fraunhofer ALI (Centre for applied logistics and information systems planning) is part of the Fraunhofer Society which has over 50 research institutes covering all aspects of science and technology. The centre specializes in production logistics and the application of IT to provide innovative new solutions for logistics processes in manufacturing organizations. www.ali.isu-cottbus.de

Jens Trebus

+49 (355) 69 4 483



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